After nearly four decades, Howard Shalwitz, a co-founder of D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, will step down as artistic director following the 2017-2018 season. A national search for his successor will begin this summer.
“I’m incredibly proud of everything we’ve accomplished over the past 38 years,” Shalwitz said in a statement. "Woolly Mammoth was a dream that Roger Brady and I had in the late 1970s, and with the help of our third co-founder Linda Reinish, as well as the dedication and support of so many others, we've had greater impact than I could have imagined.
“I've always felt my career would have a second act, and this feels like the right time to give up the daily responsibility of running the company and expand my horizons as an actor, director, teacher, and advocate for theatre. Because of the artistic and financial success Woolly has enjoyed, it is well positioned to attract a superb new leader, and I am excited to see its next artistic director build on what we've created and take the company to new heights."
After a couple of initial productions under the name Woolly Mammoth in New York, Shalwitz and Brady brought the company to D.C. in 1980, where Reinish joined them as a managing director. Under Shalwitz's leadership, Woolly has produced more than 200 plays in Washington (including 78 world and U.S. premieres), commissioned 14 new works, and earned 45 Helen Hayes Awards, becoming a leader in the creation and production of new plays. In 2014 Shalwitz received the Margo Jones Award in recognition of his lifetime commitment to new American plays.
“Our premise has been that it's possible to advance the art of theatre through innovative, provocative new work and, at the same time, to build energetic new audiences,” Shalwitz added. “It’s never been easy, but we’ve thrived in our miraculous downtown home: a testament to this community's adventurous theatre lovers and many generous supporters both here and around the country. I’m especially proud that Woolly has stayed true to its risk-taking mission, built a company of remarkable artists, launched dozens of path-breaking plays, and set a standard for creativity that has inspired others.”
“We are looking forward to celebrating Howard and everything Woolly has achieved under his leadership,” stated Linette Hwu, president of Woolly Mammoth’s board of directors. “At the same time, because he’s built an organization that has change in its DNA, we are also excited about this transition and the opportunity it presents to ensure that Woolly’s next four decades are equally successful. To that end, the board and I are ready to undertake a search process with the same reach, depth, and inclusiveness that characterizes all of Woolly’s efforts and to support its next artistic director.”
"There are so many people I'd like to thank for all they've done to support me, and for all their contributions to the success of Woolly Mammoth," said Shalwitz. "They include thousands of artists, staff members, board members, donors, supporters, and audience members who have taken a chance on Woolly from day one, believing that we had an important role to play in the growing cultural scene of Washington, DC. The legacy of a theatre company lies in its sense of purpose and in the standards and skills that it reinforces and hones over time. It's a huge honor for me to know that the Woolly community's collective determination to innovate will remain as strong as ever.”